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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  November 3, 2009 12:35pm-1:35pm EST

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>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. tonight, a conversation with one of the most important religious figures in the world. he is his all holiness, the ecumenical bar that will knew of constantinople. he's the leader of 300 million orthodox christians. we spoke in atlanta during his current visit to the united states. tomorrow in washington he meets with president obama. >> the only message that people
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of religion like myself could give to the world community is to respect everybody. all human beings as created in the image and likeness of god. and to help. jesus christ said whatever you do for my smallest, poorest people, brothers, you are doing to me. so he is, the lord, identifies himself with those people. and whatever we do for them, we do for christ. you can realize our great responsibility. >> rose: an exclusive conversation with his all holiness ecumenical patriarch bartholomew of constantinople coming up.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: his all holiness, ecumenical patriarch bartholomew of constantinople, is the primary spiritual leader of the orthodox christian world and the orthodox church, which has 300 million members around the world. it includes the churches of alexandria and jerusalem, russia serbia, romania, bulgaria, georgia, cyprus, greece, poland, albania, the check reap,
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slovakia, finland, estonia and numerous archdiocese in the old and new world. he is the 270th successor of the 2000-year-old local christian church founded by st. andrew the apostle. the orthodox religion was found in 1054 after a split with a catholic church over the primacy of the pope. the religion spread to russia, greece, eastern europe and more recently to the united states. today orthodoxy remains one of the most popular form of christianity. his all holiness was born in 1940 on the turkish island of'm bruce. his father was a barbershop owner. he enrolled in a theological school graduating with high honors in 1961. on october 22, 1991, he was elected the 270th archbishop of constantinople. he was enthroned in the patriarchal cathedral in istanbul. from the beginning he has been on a mission to modernize the church and make it more relevant. early on, he became identified with environmentalism by
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incorporating yet into his spiritual message, he has preached in the spirit of dialogue and understanding among all religions. while there are chrez yas cal differences with the catholic church, he has met with the pope several times. he had several meets with john paul in the 1990s and met with benedict in turkey. he's met with leaders around the world, including fidel castro and moammar qaddafi. his holeryness is well known in america having received the congressional gold medal and met with the past three presidents. he's on his sixth viz hit in the united states. it began in new orleans where he attended a symposium on pollution in the mississippi river. he travel new york where he met with ban ki-moon. tomorrow in washington he will meet with president obama and attend diners in his honor by the secretary of state and vice president. in 2008 he published a book called "encounter the mystery: understanding orthodox christianity today." i met him with in atlanta last
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week at the c.e.o. of coca-cola, a turkish citizen whose father was a distinguished turkish diplomat. the conversation began with a question about his role as he saw it. tell me about your role. >> by the grace of god i am the first bishop in the whole orthodox church worldwide. you may knee in the orthodox church we have the principal of the independent churches which are free to coordinate and organize their internal affairs. the local churches elect their primate and the role of the ecumenical patriarch as it is historic title of the patriarch
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of constantinople, today istanbul, is a role of primacy of honor and love. and a role of coordination among all the orthodox churches throughout the world. we have many examples even from the recent history of our church where this role of coordination, of the ecumenical patriarchy is quite clear and also the ecumenical patriarchy has a duty to assist, to help the other sister orthodox churches when they have internal problems for the solution of which they need the higher assistance. of the first seat of the wholly orthodox church. recently, only a few years ago
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we had such cases with jerusalem with the autocephalus church of cyprus which asked for the assistance, the international... intervention of the ecumenical patriarchy and we offered brotherly assistance with great love. so this is the role of the i can you men cal patriarch. ecumenical. we also coordinate dialogues with the other christian churches and denominations. in fact, it was on the initiative of the ecumenical patriarch that we started almost 25 years ago an official bilateral theological dialogue with the church of rome, with the anglican communion, the lutheran world federation and so on. we have this kind of dialogues,
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theological dialogues with all the other christian brothers and sisters. but 25 years ago the ecumenical patriarch took the initiative to initiate academic dialogues with the other mono theistic religions as well, israel and judaism. and we have con voced several conferences, meetings with them. some of them in istanbul in my seat under the title peace and tolerance. >> rose: you were considered first among equals of the nine patriarchs. why is there? >> this is out of historical reasons because constantinople,
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today istanbul, was the capital of the eastern roman empire. as such, the ecumenical councils especially second one, is 381, and the fourth ecumenical council, 4501 gave some prerogatives to the church of constantinople which are always valid and that is why today in the 21st chen rurry the same hierarchical order and the same church discipline is valid in the orthodox family and all the other sister orthodox churchs do recognize this primacy of love and honor to the church of constantinople. which primacy is not primacy of
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domination, of... or of jurisdiction but it is a primacy of service. we interpret our primacy as such. as service to the unity of the orthodox family. and as i said, to coordinate on orthodox affairs. >> rose: i want to make this a kind of primer for my audience around the world in terms of understanding christianity and where orthodox is within christiandom and how you see the difference in terms of western and eastern. >> you know that the great schism, separation, between christian east and the christian west took place in the year
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1054. since we are unfortunately separated and all of the theological dialogues among divided christians i mentioned pain to reestablish this unity between east and west. in the meantime, unfortunately in the christian west we had another division. i mean protestant. >> rose: right. >> which left the roman catholic church and formed another church group with several subdivisions, so to say. and our dialogue with them, too, with our protestant brothers and sisters say to the same say credit goal, the reestablishment of perfect unity.
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so in the christian east which remains without communion with the western christianity, the church of constantinople, the patriarch of constantinople became the first. and we have well-established hierarchical order according to which after constant nopeal we have the patriarchat of antioch and then jerusalem and these are the four ancient patriarchats of the christian east. and then we have patriarchats of eastern europe, russia, serbia, romania, and so on. and after they have we have autocephalus, independent
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orthodox churches which do not bear the title of a patriarchat. russia and all other sister churches which are autocephalus today were under the jurisdiction of constantinople. in the 16th century russia became autocephalous, independent, and later churches, the balkans, became autocephalous churches. some say ethnic churches. i don't like this term. i would like local... i would like to say local independent or autocephalous because overt doxy must not be identified with ethnicity, it must be open to
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everybody. >> rose: but are there doctrinal differences? >> no. between... among the orthodox... local orthodox churches there is not any dock trialal.... >> rose: and between the west and between pope benedict and... >> the pain difference between us is the primacy of the pope, the prime say of the bishop of rome within the context of the whole christian church. according to the belief, the interpretation of the roman catholic church, this primacy is a primacy given by god. and it gives to the pope as such jurisdiction all over the christian world. according to the interpretation of our orthodox church, this primacy of the bishop of rome is
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exactly as it is today the primacy of the church of constantinople within the orthodox family. now in the framework of our theological dialogue between catholic and orthodox, the main issue under the liberation... under discussion is precisely the matter of the issue of primacy. only a few days ago we had on the island of cyprus the meeting of the international mixed commission between orthodox and catholics and it continued on the basis of prepared drafts,
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texts. they discussed the issue of the primacy of the pope. of course this is a difficult question, the main question of which differentiates rome and orthodoxy and this dialogue with good will and mutual understanding and love will continue until we reach a common agreement, consensus. >> rose: and you think that's possible? >> it is possible. we must be optimistic. in the gospel.... >> rose: (laughs) >> in the gospel it is said that whatever is impossible to human beings it is possible to god. and we pray and work to realize his divine which l which is that all those who believe in him may be one.
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it will time because the separation between east and west goes back to 11th century. and such large gap of almost ten centurys is not easy to fulfill from one day to another. but it is very important that we start this dialogue of love from the beginning and later on dialogue of truth in this last 40 to 50 years and we see each other no more as enemies with aggression to each other. but really truly as brothers in christ and we aspire, both of us
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the same full and perfect unity. the late pope paul vi used to say that orthodox and catholics are almost united. quasi-uniti. >> rose: (laughs) >> so we must work and pray to lift up 6-up, to eliminate, to almost have this perfect union according to the will of our lord. >> rose: you're in the united states. this is the sixth time you have been here. you returned to new orleans. you participated in a symposium. you were with the secretary general and former president clinton and others in washington you'll meet with the president, secretary of state, vice president and others.
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what do you hope to accomplish in your visit? >> i came to the united states, as you said, for our eight international interfaith and interdisciplinary environmental symposium which took place last week in new orleans. we have this series of ecological symposia in order to create sensitivity and then awareness among our own faithful but not only. this is a real concern of the church as it is and must be a concern of all of the human kind human beings because we see
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everyday more and more the dangers and the threats of climate change, of pollution and so on and we have to create this awareness and sensitivity so that at least hour children and grandchildren may live in a more human, more beautiful, more clean world. usually we speak about the education of our children and good food of our children but what about the air that they breathe and the water they drink now and tomorrow and after tomorrow we have to think of the coming generations, the posterity. that is beauty of the church and that is why the ecumenical
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patriarchat initiated this symposium. environmental activity. now i came to the united states not only for this symposium but in order to visit and to bless our faithful here under the ecumenical patriarchat who are almost two million and generally speaking all the orthodox living in the united states who are five million. in fact, the other day we met with archbishops in the metropolitans living this orthodox groups, orthodox churches in the states and we tried to have mutual understand and fruitful cooperation in order to give positive good nice
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christian witness to the american community and to strengthen in faith our own faithful. >> rose: my understanding is that somewhere between 250 and 300 million members of the orthodox church. >> yes. throughout the world. >> rose: throughout the world. i think it was al gore but it may have been someone else who first called you the green patriarch. (laughs) you accept that? >> thank you. it's an honor for me. it is recognition if you like of our humble environmental activities. it is good for more general spreading out of this environmental message. >> rose: your message is
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spiritual. that it is a spiritual responsibility... >> it is. >> rose:... of the church and its leaders for you to connect who the planet and spirituality. >> i used to they ecological problem is not nearly an economic or a political problem. it is mainly a spiritual and ethical question. because it shows our relation not only to god or with god but also our relation with the creator of everything according to our faith but also our relation to his creation because the creation of god is also say cet credit and we have to respect it and to protect it according to the order of the
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first book of the old testament and simply to use it and not to abuse it, think of the coming generations who must share the same treasures, the same resources of the planet as we do today. >> rose: so how do you plan to use your influence to make a difference? >> mainly, as i said, through creating consciousness of responsibility, for respect and protection of the natural environment of the planet of which we are simply stewards and not owners. >> rose: all right. you also have interesting ideas about the global economy.
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>> well, we.... >> rose: give us your economic... >> we live and we experience economic... world economic crisis, all of us. >> rose: yes. >> but in the last analysis, this economic crisis is a crisis of values and priorities. if there goes to be more social justice, more human aproech to poverty more love in the christian.... >> rose: so you have economic leaders and business leaders not to forget the fact we have two larger segments of the population that are poor
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>> and the reach and we have to reestablish the balance. >> rose: what would you have them do? >> you know, i'm of the pope's messages of the first day of the new years which always a message on the day of peace as it is declared proclaimed by the church of rome. so that if we don't have social justice we cannot obtain permanent peace around the globe. so if we have to understand the problems of the so-called third world or any poor fellow human being and to be of help. of course, this is mainly the
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job of politicians, of leaders of great financial organizations the only message of people of religion like myself could give to the world community is to respect everybody, all human beings, as created in the image and likeness of god. and to be of help. christ said that whatever you do for my smallest poorest people, brothers, you are doing to me. so he, the lord, identifies himself with those people so you can realize our great
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responsibility in these context. >> rose: are we forgotten that, you think, as a society? >> unfortunately yes. and we have to rebuild a more just world community. the word is not "just" but i can't find the other. fair. >> rose: fair. yes, fair. so the sense of looking at this global economic crisis that we are just beginning to recover from is that was fueled by economic success in part... i mean, you admonish all leaders to think of those least among us who have not benefited and as we understand the benefits of free
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market and the benefits of different economic systems make sure that we do not realize that everyone does not benefit and that we have a responsibility and it's a spiritual responsibility to our fellow... >> this will be at the last analysis to the benefit of ourselves. of all of the human community because this will be a great contribution to creating a stable peace around the globe and mutual understanding and avoid the rev t... those opposed and will bring peace and equality which will be to the benefit of all of the human community.
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>> rose: one might ask, is the church doing you have? is the church communicating well enough whether it's islam, whether it's christianity, whether it's judaism. it's a huge responsibility to have us understand values, fairness, equity. >> to be honest, no. religion has done a loot throughout the centuries for us christians, christianity give the strongest message and the essence of our christian faith is love and respect for the
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human person. but neither christianity nor the other mono theistic religions succeeded to bring peace and love and respect all over the globe as we experience it everyday. because representatives of religions are also human beings, it means not perfect. they have their own the things, they have their own incapacities
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and willingnesss to fulfill their sacred responsibilities. sometimes not internal but objective, external rbs. prohibit us to fulfill our sacred mission and task and that is why whatever religions proclaim and promise is not the reality in the life of humans. >> rose: what happens, it seems to me, is that the extreme edges of various religious faiths capture and use for themselves the majesty of the church or the
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soul of the church and use it for political ends. >> in some cases in history, yes we cannot reject it, it is reality. but i remember now that when only a few months after my election as ecumenical patriarch i convened all heads of churches at the patriarchat in istanbul and we had the first meeting of the head of the orthodox churches. we signed all together a message to our faithful and to the world and in that text of our message we condemned the using of religion for political and
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nationalistic purposes and goals so today officially the orthodox church rejects the use or abuse of religion for political purposes. >> rose: but so many wars also have been fought about religion. or not? >> sometimes we misinterpret conflicts and wars as being created by religion. >> rose: when it's about power. >> but, in fact, it is politics or political interest that provoke these conflicts and not religion. i believe that recent conflicts in the balkans, although were interpreted as clash or conflict
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between faiths, religions it was only for political interest or economic interest that they took place, not out of difference of religious beliefs. >> rose: some of the most savage fighting during the iraqi war was between shiites and sunni within the church. the sectarian battles were the most intense. yet at the same time there's a great hope now in iraq that kurds and sunni and shi'a can come together. >> that is why we need the interfaith dialogue and that is why the ecumenical patriarchat received this message 25 years ago and initiated this dialogue between different faiths among
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the mono theistic religions in order to bring more understanding and mutual respect and to avoid religious fanaticism, fundamentalism and to give the a opportunity to human beings to see each other as brothers because we are all created by the same god and as such we are brothers and sisters between ourselves. we have the same heavenly father whatever we call him. and as being.... >> rose: we of all religions have the same heavenly father. >> of course. god is but one independently on the name we give him, allah or yahweh and so on. god is one and we are his
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children and we have to love and understand each other. >> rose: how are you doing with the turkish government? >> now better. >> rose: (laughs) >> it is true that we have had serious problems as greek orthodox community, as ecumenical patriarchat and all the other minorities living in turkey. now the situation is much better. our prime minister is working harder to bring turkey into the european union as a full member. this is a real and concrete aspiration of the present administration and we minorities have already experienced some
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positive changes which are not enough we do expect for more quick reforms in the turkish society. >> rose: what reforms do you expect? >> >> for instance freedom, absolute freedom of religion and a concrete example of. that would be the reopening of our school of theology, it was closed down in the year 1971. which prohibited the ecumenical patriarchat to train the young geration of its staff and also the people need the commune cal patriarchat abroad.
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we need the restitution of giving back to us of the church properties taken away from our hands through non-legal methods and waste. this will prove that a real change of mind. >> rose: do you believe that the prime minister is listening to you? >> >> he has the good will to do so. it is not always easy to fulfill his plans, his desires. it will take time maybe but we believe that it will be for the benefit of turkey and its image
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abroad to do these reforms and bring respect, bring back respect for human rights and the most important is respect of religious freedom as soon as possible. >> you support the membership of turkey in the european union? >> yes, i do. we do at the patriarchat. >> rose: and do you believe that if it does not look promising that turkey will look in another direction? east rather than west? >> well, these are political questions and i am not involved in the politics but i wish i could see as soon as possible turkey being full part, full member of the european society
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as the dream and the aspiration of the founder of modern turkey. >> he believed this in a true secular state. >> in order to bring turkey into the european family and that is why he did so many reforms in his time. >> rose: speaking of political leaders, what do you think of president obama? >> i met him shortly in istanbul a few months ago and the impression he gave me was a very positive one. the impression of a man humbled, human, a man who knows and wants to listen to the other. and i am very happy and honored that he accepted to receive me
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next week, next tuesday at the white house. this is the case of his predecessors clinton and bush who both received me in washington with great honors which belonged to the patriarch at to this very ancient religious institution of ours and not simply to my person. and even president clinton paid an official visit to the ecumenical patriarchat to istanbul as sitting president. this was unique in recent history. >> rose: and suppose the president said to your holiness "what can i do for you? and what can i do for your church?" what would you say?
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>> i would answer to him in more general terms saying that he as the leader of this great country which influences so many things around the globe has to create this full respect of human right among them religious freedom and respect of the rights of minorities everywhere because this will be a real contribution to the establishment of a permanent peace and to avoiding conflicts because of injustices
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he has the responsibility and the possibility to do so much to this direction. and of course in this context, in this framework they are first the problems of our church and our minority in turkey are included. >> rose: you'd like him to put that on the turkish agenda next time he talks to the prime minister. >> our prime minister is coming very soon to washington. in november. >> rose: and human rights is an international... is a global value. >> and if the united states of america pays great attention to this issue of human rights. >> rose: tell me000 you see a changing sense of america and
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what the world expects from america? >> we appreciate the general speaking of opennesss all courageous initiatives taken by political leaders and the leader of the united states of america which, as i said, has a great impact, influence, all over the world. china, you mentioned china is a huge country with more than one billion inhabitants. so to create not simply good economical relations, financial relations with china between the united states and china but
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create and establish more and more trust, confidence, among these two great countries, we'll be of great importance for world peace. the message that president obama gave since the very beginning of tenure in favor of the dialogue with islam is also very positive because it brings understanding among two mono theistic religion with so many faithful followers around the globe, these are courageous steps towards
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establishing the peace to which we all aspire. >> rose: as you know, i'm doing a series of conversations with members of islamic world. what would be your message as a... one of the most important religious leaders in the world to islam? >> to respect all humans. to teach love and respect. to cooperate with all people of good will not to live isolated but in creating, in building bridges with the other faiths and other cultures and from this point of view we appreciate very
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much the initiative of the turkish prime minister and the spanish prime minister to bring together and closer the civilizations of christian western and eastern muslim civilization. this is a need, a must in our era. >> rose: you wrote a book called "encountering the mystery. understanding orthodox christianity today." what's the mystery? >> the mystery is whatever exist behind visible things, orthodoxy eastern christianity pays great attention and value to
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spirituality, to known... non-seen things but lived, experienced out of faith because of our faith. and these things are eternal, are permanent, do not change, they are created by god as valid for all generations, all places, all ages and the fathers, especially fathers of christian east have spoken repeatedly on the necessity to transcend material things that they need and to try to approach and live
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and experience the mysteries of the kingdom of god who is coming. not simply coming but according to the gospel starts since this very life on earth, so my intention goes to remind people of these values, these eternal things, these things not seen with our eyes but which is nevertheless the reality and which gives us hope for the kingdom of god and for eternity. >> rose: it is said with respect about you that this high exalted
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place that you set has been and sometimes honor riff i can that you have energized it, have made it more powerful, have made it more visible, have made it more part of the conversation. what have you done? >> thank you for that. snipe (laughs) >> i think that i simply... i'm simply a servant of god and of my faith. i tried to do my best according to the necessities and possibilities of today beginning of the 21st century, to be in contact with the reality of
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everyday life, not to live only in theory or only within the wools of the church, but to be present in among my faithful everywhere, that's why i travel a lot and sometimes i am criticized that i travel too much. but my feeling is that ef to bring the message of the gospel, the love of the church, the sympathy of the church all over the world. but if you like, if i am permitted to say not only to orthodox faith but to all human beings an environment for which we work and try to make a small contribution is not a matter of
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unorthodox only. it is a matter of all of human beings. i tried to transmit the message of love and respect, of course, for god our creator for all of our fellow human beings and for the creation there i repeat is is sacred because it came out of the hands of god, the ecumenical patriarchat is a very, very important historic religious based in turkey, in istanbul of today for 1,700 years, if you can imagine, mr. rose. and such an old institution which offers so many things to
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the church and the humankind, not only as religion but also as civilization, culture, must be protected in order to survive, to continue its ecumenical mission, its ecumenical message which is spiritual, is human, is a message of love, tolerance, reconciliation. this is what i try to do. and if there is such a positive appreciation of my humble deeds, this is an honor for me. >> rose: as it is for me to sit with you. i thank you very much for this time. >> thank you. >> rose: our thanks to his holiness and all the people who made this conversation possible. we will begin soon a new series of conversations about religion
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and about politics. it is called "voices of islam" in which we will travel the globe talking to members of the muslim faith about how they see their role and their world and the faith. we hope you will join us for those conversations. thank you for joining us tonight. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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i wonder if i ought to give up betting on the horses. - i don't believe it. - i should give up losing, just bet on winners. maybe i'd start betting on the dogs. oh, now i believe it. i didn't quite understand at first. i thought he was flirting dangerously with common sense, - but he isn't, are you? - no. you had me worried for a minute. the world is changing that fast, you don't know what to rely on. but if he abandons stupidity, that's my last certainty gone. well, my last certainty's gone and all, come in fifth. you won't be able to put so much on dogs. they're smaller, so that'll save you some money. i think i fancy an ice lolly.


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